The world operates under this dominant narrative that everyone has a purpose in life, and we should do everything to find or fulfill that purpose. We are told from the time we are children that we are ‘meant for something’, that ‘there’s a plan for us’. But as we enter adulthood we begin to realize that we’re all just flailing around, no one less lost than the other.
Still, the premium on purpose continues to exist. It makes us doubt ourselves, asks what’s so wrong with us that we can’t figure out what we want in life. There is a compulsive need to have our futures planned out ahead of us, to create a full checklist of steps and milestones to accomplish within a certain timeframe. Sure, for some people that can make everything seem so much clearer. But for a lot of others, it just constricts them into the molds they set for themselves.
People tend to construct these elaborate plans step-by-step because everyone else has always told them this is how things are done. Often, these plans are made without any clear direction or desire. Planning your life out when you don’t even know what you want from life in the first place is the perfect way to end things in heartbreak. You devote all that time and effort only to realize — this is not what you want.
The converse then is infinitely preferable: living out life without a definite roadmap and making things up as you go along. People hold a lot of scorn towards this mindset, accusing it of having no ambition or being lazy. But why can’t we just be lost and find happiness in being lost anyway?
A lot of the time, it’s exactly in being lost that we find where we’re supposed to be. Without a set path we’re more likely to try new things or pursue unlikely opportunities. It’s easier to throw caution into the wind and grasp an attractive possibility, even if it deviates from what we’re ‘supposed’ to be doing with our lives. There is no ultimate goal aside from responding to what you think you need at that moment.
Some would say this is impulsive, that momentary gratification gets in the way of reaching the bigger picture. But sometimes people don’t see that bigger picture and that’s okay. Sometimes people are confused and decide things on a whim, sometimes they figure things out as they go along and end up happy anyway. That’s all okay, too. It’s giving yourself the opportunity to learn what you’re truly passionate and invested in.
While this isn’t to say having big life plans or intricate dreams is innately bad, it does order your priorities in a certain way. It asks that your every move and intention go towards achieving that bigger goal. Yet, that bigger goal may not ultimately be what’s best for you. Sacrifice and hard work may be virtues, but they should still only be given after some level of assessment. Too often, we outgrow the plans we set for ourselves early on.
The things we wanted for ourselves in the beginning may not be the things that are right for us, anymore. Maybe the grades you’re getting don’t make the cut, maybe you find out you have no passion for the field you entered, or maybe even what was meant to be temporary is turning out to be something you genuinely enjoy.
Fulfillment doesn’t come in just one shape or size. It can be found in any number of ways or even defined by yourself. Taking a gamble with the opportunities life has to offer is as much a valid source of fulfillment as climbing the career ladder in your chosen field. As long as you’re not actively harming yourself or others, how you find happiness should be up to you. It need not be dictated by a comprehensive life plan that shows you how to get from point A to B.
What do you think about this?